It''s tough to make a story where you establish early on that your main character will be alive at the end. From The Excavation Of Hob''s Barrow, a point and click, small town, folk horror adventure game, and the events are narrated by Thomasina in the future, but it''s very different. Rather than successfully making you believe that a character you know survives is in danger, you''ll be aware that Thomasina is alive but, somehow, you can save
The game''s looming dread is one of the most effective tools in Hob''s Barrows'' arsenal of horror. Thomasina, a barrow-digger and proto-feminist trouser-wearer in a time when trousers were worn by men, is usually quiet and sad. It''s a contrast that weighs more and more heavily as you slice into the sad heart of Hob''s Barrow, and highlights how remarkable it is to play it in its fully voiced form
As well as the voice acting, Hob''s Barrow has an appropriately creeping soundtrack, making a great use of the juddering bass tones that put all humans and related monkeys on edge, and isn''t a stranger to annoying lighting. The game''s purple is a sick purple. Most of all, there should be given a few praises for their pixel-art and then use that to repulse you.
Thomasina isn''t just groping into spooky things at random in the isolated area of Bewlay, near Bakewell, because a local sent her to tell her about Hob''s Barrow, a prehistoric burial mound nearby ripe for the excavatin. Except, when Thomasina arrives, there''s no sign of the man who wrote to her, and all other people (most of whom are diverse flavours and levels of dour) insist they haven''t heard
It takes Thomasina about a week, which makes things more maturing and painful. However, the points themselves are clear (I only got correctly stuck once, because I was being silly), but they also encourage a slightly sideways angle on the logic. Another technique is to make a poultice to treat arthritis, so that an old man can milk his goat. Other techniques are useful if you already know where fairies live or what a horse''s favourite treat.
There''s always a noticeable ladder between them. Many people may look up at "get this lady some goat''s milk," then go back to "cannot milk goat," and understand that you need to get "steal produce from an uninvolved market seller." It''s just a case of looking at the gaps, and honestly, it probably won''t take you too long. Hob''s Barrow, where he is a bit biased, has simplified the point and click controls, and all said that you
I think I was more impressed by how the puzzles worked together with the rest of the game. These are country puzzles, folky puzzles - all stone and mud and wiggling worms - that get less normal and hands-on in time, as Thomasina grows more embroiled in the strange, mythical power of Bewlay and its moors. The Excavation Of Hob''s Barrow does a good job of establishing a sense that the landscape itself is somewhat hostile,
Both you and Thomasina are first repelled by and then become familiar with locals. There are certainly two divisions visible - two theories of thought - but over the week Thomasina visits Bewlay she sees them, and they become less recognizable. You get to know him and the church for the first time, and you get to know them early, even in the rain, in mist, at night. And Thomasina starts to realize her terrible dream on her second night.
The problem is that she believes it will lead to something good, but you know that it will very much turn out bad. You are at odds with the Thomasina in the game, with bewlay''s player knowledge and character knowledge, as well. Every step forward gives you the same feeling as Randy in Scream, attempting to explain the rules of horror films to everyone.
I''ll continue to solve all of the puzzles, but I''d guess there was a puzzle that avoided the disaster for Thomasina. This is a beautifully dank, damp, gloomy folk horror. There''s no way to go before Thomasina will be saved. It''s also worth the effort.